A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cultural Celebration of Eid Milan

The joy and happiness of the beautiful gathering celebrating Eid Milan at the Tysons Corner Sapphire Restaurant was truly incredible! The evening was hosted by Aziza and Tahir Shad along with their lovely and growing family, and it was definitely a very happy occasion. The Indian/Pakistani food was so delicious, and just the right amount of "kick" for everyone to enjoy. An excellent restaurant I'll return to soon I hope.

A highlight of the evening, besides catching up with some "old" friends (former colleagues on the Parent Advisory Board at Georgetown), and meeting new ones (including Aziza's extended family); was the playing of several viola musical songs performed by Aziza's nephew, Rizwan Jagani. A classically trained graduate of Carnegie Mellon University School of Music - 2019, he is actually releasing an album in two weeks, and gave us a glimpse of what performances he will have on his disc. They all were beautiful and everyone enjoyed his tremendous talents on that viola! Bravo Rizwan!

A huge shout of THANKS to Aziza and Tahir for inviting us (and our gang) to celebrate this wonderful occasion with your family and friends who hail from all parts of the globe. A truly memorable evening for all who were able to attend.

BSoleille! The bright side of enjoying cultural experiences with wonderful friends in the DC Metro area.


Photos taken on Greg Shank's phone of the PAB (Tom and Marilyn Eichner;
Greg and Donna Shank, Ed and Beth Goldberger; Steve and Carmen Cheng; Mike and Allison Soussi-Tanani); plus Tim Mooney; Steve and Michelle Pappas with their children; Analiese and Alexander; and Mary and Jeff Lane. Aziza Shad in front seat!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Coats For Kids - Cleveland Style

When the Coats For Kids warehouse caught fire on February 3, 2019, all the coats that were left to warm the kids of Cleveland, Ohio, were destroyed. It was a devastating day for a lot of folks. Cleveland radio personality, Mike Trivisonno, decided that day he would do another fund-raiser to benefit Coats for Kids to replace the many coats lost to the fire to help others.

My good friend, Debbie Martinko, the executive director of CFK, asked some of her friends if they would like to go in on a table to this event.  I couldn’t resist the idea to help the cause, see some great friends along with my sister Kimberly, and have a good time in my hometown. A win-win for sure!

It is/was a great event highlighted by the band Sunset Strip (who donated their talents) and “Elvis” too! Note: blogging from event... everyone staying until they announce the 50/50 drawing of 8K (and they want the winner to keep it and not donate it back to cause). Now, that is something...

A big shout of Thanks to Mike Trivisonno, Debbie Martinko and the Hilton Garden Inn, Twinsburg, Ohio, for making this event possible! May we all help the kids of Cleveland stay warm when those frigid temperatures return late fall.



Thursday, June 27, 2019

A New Certified Copy of Our Marriage License...

If married, do you know where your marriage license is located? Ours has been "missing" since we moved to Maryland 23 years ago. I remember distinctly that the church certificate and the State of Ohio Marriage License were both with our photo album, and I took them out to put in a "safe place" before we moved. I/we have yet to uncover that "safe space."

Today I changed all that by heading to downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and the Cuyahoga County Court House to rectify and obtain, not one, but two copies (with a raised stamp) of our marriage license. This time, they will both go in our Vital Statistics folders we keep all that stuff in for "safe keepings."

At the bargain price of $2.00 each, I really could not resist in buying two! Interestingly, I paid more for parking ($5.00) so for a total of $9.00; we are "officially" married and have the papers to prove it once again!



Photos of the marriage license bureau (complete with an engaged couple applying for their license) and Court House!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The "Ruler of Rulers" with Geraldine Wilkins

What a guild meeting we had tonight with quilter (DSM free-motion quilter) extraordinaire, Geraldine Wilkins! Oh, by the way, DSM stands for Domestic Sewing Machine (meaning a regular "table top" machine, not a standing long-arm). She was just lovely as she took us through her humble beginnings as a quilter, and wowed us on what she is doing today!

Her love of quilting is infectious, and she proclaims herself "addicted," as many of us do too. Her quilting, using various ruler techniques, had us oohing and ahhing all evening. Thankfully, she passed around many of her small quilts so we could be "up close and personal" with many of her fine works of art to really see all those stitches in each area of her quilts. Stunning would be another adjective I would describe Geraldine's quilts. It's no wonder she, and her patterns (and quilting), are in the many recent quilting publications in the last year or so.

Geraldine has been quilting for a little over 10 years, and her work definitely establishes her skills in the fine details of her machine quilting and overall creative designs; many along the "modern quilt spectrum."  In a "previous" life, she worked as a photojournalist for the Los Angeles Times traveling the globe in pursuit of stories, presidents and celebrities. Once she moved back East to work for a magazine, she joined her church sewing group, then a guild, then three guilds, and then she was off to the races in all things quilty!

I'm thrilled that Geraldine shared her wonderful trunk show with us (also gave out door prizes). A  huge shout of THANKS to our Program Chair, Misty Cole, for bringing in such a delightful, dynamic and meaningful quilter to showcase her amazing talents.

Please check out more of Geraldine Wilkins on her website: https://livingwaterquilter.com/



Photo of Geraldine selling some of her favorite products (Glide Thread, my favorite as well) and patterns.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Kids' Bicycle

Today was a day to purge the garage as much as possible, including the kids' Schwinn bike. We bought it when we first moved to Crofton, and was not ridden as much as we thought it would, but that's okay. I bought it at the local Family Bike Shop close to 20 years ago, and returned it back in today...and in excellent shape I may add. I told the owner to donate it to a good cause or another kid who may need or want it.

It was really a bittersweet full circle moment of getting rid of the childhood bicycle. So, by giving it back, wasn't it like we rented it for the past 20 years? I kind of think so to tell you the truth.



Monday, June 24, 2019

A Grand Rapids Treat - A Frank Lloyd Wright House Restored to Grandeur

After all the festivities of the wedding weekend in Grand Rapids, we had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport. While looking for something else online, we happened to stumble upon a Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) home that was near (enough) where we stayed and decided to take a "looksie."

Since my travel companions nor I have ever entered one of FLW's "masterpieces," it was a win-win destination for the three of us to take in and enjoy. Even better, the tour was FREE, compliments of Steelcase, Inc (manufacturer of office furniture and established as a leader its furniture lines beginning in 1912 in Grand Rapids, MI). Interestingly, FLW "works of art" number about 425, with the majority located in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. He was definitely a genius architect and had his hands in all aspects of his designs and buildings, of course, but he was a master at even the smallest details in ALL aspects of the homes and buildings he built.

The house we visited is called the Meyer-May house, a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house located in the Heritage Hill area of Grand Rapids, MI. It was built in 1908-1909 and located at 450 Madison Avenue SE. It's considered a fine example of Wright's Prairie School era, and Michigan's Prairie masterpiece. My favorite part of this particular house are the windows, and the way he designed the glass panels, a lot with color components, that cast the light in beautiful arrays around each room. Stunning design for sure! Our tour started in the house next door by watching a 35 minute film on Mr. May; Mr. Wright and the restoration process by Steelcase, Inc., followed by a 40 minute docent led tour of the home.

I believe we three became instant fans of FLW's works and look forward to visiting a few more along our journeys when time and place permit it! Fallingwater (one of the most famous one of his) is definitely on our "bucket list(s)!"

BSoleille! The bright side of a new adventure in visiting a Frank Lloyd designed home!


Photos of home

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Pure Love in Pure Michigan: Wedding of Haley Nelson and Jayme Peńa!

When love is in the air, especially being celebrated on a warm summer's day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, there's nothing like it! This weekend we were lucky enough to travel there and were honored to help in the celebration of the marriage of Haley Nelson to Jayme Peńa. Our family has been friends with the Nelson's for over 33 years, and have known Haley since the day she was born. And just like that...she's all grown up and now married, and we could not be happier for her and her handsome groom. Cheers to you both!

In addition to all the festivities surrounding the wedding, the meeting up with our "old" friends (Gina and Scott) and their families and friends (who many we have not scene in "decades") was also a super sweet treat for us. It seemed everyone was in a very festive and celebratory mood the entire weekend in Pure Michigan.

A huge shout of Thanks to Gina and Scott Nelson, and Becky and Joe Peńa and their families, in creating a perfect wedding celebration for their precious daughter, Haley, and son, Jayme. Pure Love fore sure!

Congratulations to the new bride and groom and wishing you both a lifetime of joy and happiness, and hanging on to the adventure of married life.



Photos from the wedding:

Below: Haley and Jayme Peńa

MOB (Mother of the bride) Gina Nelson and me

Bride's brother Ben Nelson and Ryan

Bill, Ben, Ryan and FOB Scott Nelson

Angela Lowder and me (we go way back too)

Posing with Jayme and Haley!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Approximately Exact

This is the name of the craft beer I chose this evening in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grand Rapids Brewer). Isn’t it a cool name? I had to try it based on the name alone.  And...to describe it would be just that, "approximately exact." We are here for a wedding tomorrow for Haley Nelson (daughter of friends we knew in Cleveland, Ohio, for  close to 30 years). So exciting to see how grown up Haley is now and all the kids we know since the day they were born.

I must admit, Grand Rapids, Michigan, is quite the happening place. Cute eateries and craft breweries on every corner of their downtown area, and new buildings mixed in with rehabbed old buildings. Lots of people of all ages enjoying the summer solstice. Sun set close to 10:00pm tonight. I’m so glad we made the trip for sure!


Photos from the Grand Rapids Brewery.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Throwback Thursday

Since the baseball season is well on its way for 2019; my photo below was taken at the Bowie Baysox game in April of 2002 when the kids were little and had high hopes of catching a foul bowl (notice the baseball gloves in between them that they proudly wore into the stadium that nice spring day).

Looking forward to a game or two more this season. Play ball!



Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Love Those Curves!

As in curved piecing that is. Last week my quilt guild offered a class in curved piecing, and at the last minute, I decided to join in on the fun. The class was taught by quilter/author/teacher Heather Kojan, and it was a definite "skill builder"...especially sewing around curves. Thank goodness that the cotton fabric is cut on the bias so it meshes together quite seamlessly (no pun intended).

And just like anything in life, preparation is half the battle in accomplishing any type of task. Quilting is no different, and really, we typically have to prepare quite a bit while making a quilt; tote or any project we want to actually finish! So, I must admit, I only have one block done, and I'm happy about it, but I am still prepping in finishing the rest of the blocks. I think this will be a sweet quilt when done, and I will share the final project when completed (in between my NeedleOnFull work).

My photos below show how sewists sew on the bias, which looks kind of weird when matching up the two pieces of fabric, but by golly, finishes up beautifully when the curve is followed all the way down (and sewing a wee bit slower than usual helps...a lot). Not to be overlooked is measuring at least three times and cutting once - everyone's goal for sure!

Cheers to the one block...plus many more to follow!



Monday, June 17, 2019

Fabulous Flower Power

Rain is everywhere these days, and not always welcome. It sure does a good job "greening" the lawns and gardens (positive thinking), and the flowers get plenty of water...but, it's been a little difficult with all the celebrations happening this spring and summer of 2019. I guess we all have to make the best of it and call it all "liquid sunshine."

Thankfully, the big old sun shined through two weekends ago on Kelleys Island. At a perfect moment in time when I walked up to the edge of one of Jodie Smith's flower gardens, this beautiful iris had the light shining on it "just right." I quickly took a photo of it and wanted to share it. No filter...just that natural sunlight coming off of Lake Erie for this handsome bloom!



Sunday, June 16, 2019

Justin Kocan Graduation and Happy Father’s Day

The cool rainy weather in Cleveland, Ohio, was never going to damper the spirits of my nephew, Justin Kocan’s, grad party! It was a very quick trip, arrived late yesterday afternoon, and already back on the road home to Maryland. But nevertheless, cheers to and a huge Congratulations goes out to Justin and his graduation class of 2019 from North Royalton High School. A great party (still going on) hosted by my sister Kimberly and husband Jerry! Don’t we all love the food at parties? This was no exception, which included some terrific Polish dishes like kielbasa and sauerkraut, a family favorite.

I would also like to reach out to all the Dads in the world  and wish each and every one a Happy Father’s Day (including my hubby, Bill).


Below: Kocan’s ready for their graduation party guests.

Bill taking a much deserved nap, albeit a week early!

Justin the graduate 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Bike Brigade on Kelleys Island

Last weekend we took a lot of photos around the island doing different things with many people. The weather was warm enough and there was an abundance of sunshine for all the festivities of which we were very thankful for all weekend long.

One of the true spirit of Kelleys Island is touring around the whole island, preferably by bicycle. With all roads set at 25 mph, it's easy for people of all ages to tool around from Downtown, to the Glacier Grooves and State Campground to riding along the Lakeshore and to see the many views of Lake Erie at its finest.

The photo below is a group of eight (that's how many bikes we had to go around) that toured the above described areas. And it's always a pleasure to show off the island to a newcomer; Stephens Shafer, who hails from Richmond VA, and now, Washington DC (on the extreme right)! He loved everything about the island...and now we can add another convert to the magic of Kelleys Island just like that!

BSoleille! The bright side of an early morning bike ride: From L-R: Brian Phillips, me, "The Best Daughter", Liz Verrecchia, Jodie Smith, Kimberly Kocan, Jerry Kocan, and Stephens Shafer.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Happy 32nd Anniversary to Us!

...and just like that (finger click again), 32 years went by in a flash! We love fiercely and have enjoyed the wild ride of marriage since saying; "I do" on June 13, 1987!

Cheers to many more years of wedded bliss!


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Quilter-Teacher-Author Heather Kojan

Due to all the excitement with "The Best Daughter" (recently engaged) and travels to Ohio, I haven't sewn or quilted in several days. Sew...it was good to get back to brass tax and attend the guild meeting tonight where we had a guest speaker and trunk show with quilter, Heather Kojan.

Heather has been quilting for over 30 years, and has perfected her style of quilting by making modern quilts; and with that, became the founder of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild in 2010. Her trunk show began with her modest beginner quilts (we all have to start somewhere!); to the beautiful quilts she makes today. Many of her quilts are in various publications and she teaches her methods all over the country (and at guilds and retreats).

A class on curved piecing is tomorrow at our meeting place, and I plan on taking it (on a whim I might add) and learn a new technique, or two, or at least I hope to! I had to race back home from the meeting to select fabrics from my stash to be ready (no worries, my stash of fabric did not disappoint for the selections I needed to make!).



Below: Heather, and "quilt holders and folders" Misty Cole and Janet Freitag.

Heather Kojan and her modern quilts! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

And Just Like That (click your fingers)....

A little girl is all grown up and engaged to be married! The first photo was taken in 1996 on Kelleys Island, Ohio, during the 1 mile fun run for kids ("The Best Daughter" was four years old). And then, just like that, 23 years later that photo was "recreated" this past Sunday virtually near the exact same spot! Thankful beyond words for the entire weekend, and Scot and Jodie Smith for hosting a large crowd for the special occasion and Race Weekend!



Sunday, June 9, 2019

Kelleys Island Races

It's always fun to cap off the weekend with either a 5K or 10K race on Kelleys Island, especially when both races have their courses run along the shoreline. Viewing the glimmering waters and boats spread out in Lake Erie make it a stellar day for sure (and the temperature was perfect for a Sunday morning run).

Our gang was split in folks running/walking both races, and everyone had a good time doing their best. I was thankful to enjoy the journey of covering 3.1 miles...and got second place in my age group!



Photos of the start with my sister Kimberly, nephews Brandon Kocan and Alex Tomoff and friends Sergei, Natasha and Max (all a part of our gang and running the 5K).

Our gang

Brian Phillips, Brandon Kocan, Olivia and Ryan

Medalists in various age groups in the 5K and 10K races!
Olivia, me, Linda Misencik, Beth Tomoff (Birthday Girl!!!), Bill, Mark Misencik, Scot Smith, Brian Phillips and Sergei K.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

She Said, "YES!"

Kelleys Island, Ohio, has always been a happy place for me and my family, and this weekend, it just got a wee bit happier with the exciting news of "The Best Daughter"getting engaged to her betrothed, Brian Phillips! Everyone was "in" on the news, except "The Best Daughter," so her surprise on the proposal was very sweet and pure joy! We are so happy for Brian and Olivia as they move ahead and plan for the future, which in itself, is exciting for both families.

A huge THANK YOU to Jodie and Scot Smith for hosting this beautiful event at their lovely home (with live entertainment)! And what event can't go without food? So another huge THANK YOU to Ryan Tomoff and Carol and Dick Smith for catering a delicious dinner for all (pulled pork and wings and a huge Italian Dinner!)  We are so appreciative for the family and friends who were able to celebrate the engagement weekend, culminating with the 5K and 10K races tomorrow morning!

BSoleille! The bright side of love and a beautiful engagement in one of "The Best Daughter's" happy place.


I hope you will enjoy the photos of this wonderful day for our family. Below; the proposal (photo taken in the house with a screen in the window cause we weren't sure if it was going to be "the moment").

Brian and Olivia

Family and Friends helping with the celebration.

Our family!

Well, we did need the champagne...

Love at Kelleys Island

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Kelleys Island Sunset

On the point on Kelley’s Island, Ohio, with a perfect sunset. Enough said today!


Let the weekend begin...

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wingmaster to the BBQ

One has to start very early in the morning to "properly" smoke pulled pork on the Traeger (and chicken wings yesterday) to get a jump start on the upcoming weekend on Kelleys Island, Ohio. Wingman Ryan didn't disappoint as he rose with the sun to start the day long process of tenderly working with the meat. Thankfully, he loves to cook this way, and took the day in stride with meticulously maintaining proper temperatures and brining the meat with his "secret combinations" of various vinegars and spices. The strong flavors wafting from the meat had to turn some heads in the neighborhood in our direction because it smelled sooo good!

BSoleille! The bright side of a "grill master" making delicious food on the "barbie."


Photo is Ryan prepping the start of the long day of cooking the meat...

Monday, June 3, 2019

Organizing? the Garbage?

The county we live in, Anne Arundel County in Maryland, has quite an extensive waste management program and recycling program that is really quite excellent. I really "love" going to the "dump", or more aptly named, the Millersville Landfill (the one I go to) and Recycling Center. It's really amazing how much garbage there is on a daily basis from our family, let alone the county we live in, the state, and then the entire nation. It hurts the head to think about all the stuff we throw out, and then how much there is on a daily basis from 7 billion people!!! Egads!

Can you even imagine? There are so many barges on the waterways around the globe that are trying to figure out where to go with all the waste, that closer to home, it may seem that we get lulled into not seeing where it all goes if you have curbside pick-up (on a weekly basis ideally). It's when we venture out to get rid of the "bigger trash" that it all "crystallizes", or at least for me.

Truly, we are thankful for the pick up service we have living in my county, but will be more mindful on the waste generated each day.